Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Snow Peas, Shredded Carrots and Red Peppers with Miso Ginger Dressing

Lucky me, I live near a farmer who grows peas and sells them freshly picked from his farmstand.  I just bought these beautiful snow peas and wanted to transform them into a colorful salad to serve alongside a vegetarian casserole for dinner. I scoured past blogposts to see if I had done anything like this before.  On June 14, 2012 (8 years ago--almost to the day!!) I posted a dish with snow peas and greens with a miso-ginger vinaigrette.  I mixed up a batch of the vinaigrette and then tweaked it to suit my taste for a different combination of veggies for today's salad.


Vegetables:

3 cups snow peas, trimmed
1 carrot, shredded or grated
1/2 red pepper, cut into strips

Cilantro as garnish, if desired

Dressing:

1 TBS + 1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp ume plum vinegar
3 TBS water
1 TBS white miso
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp mirin
2 tsp ginger juice or grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp tahini
2 1/2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce or tamari



Rinse snow peas and place in glass bowl. Cover and cook at high temperature for 1 minute in microwave.  The water from rinsing them is enough for them to steam in the bowl. Uncover and allow to cool. Mix cooled snow peas together with carrots and peppers in a small bowl.  Blend all dressing ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss. Garnish with cilantro if desired. You can make this ahead of time and let sit for several hours before serving.  Serves 3 as a side dish.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Mushroom and Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce for Pasta

If, like me, you love mushrooms. pasta, and creamy sauces, you will want to make this sauce.  It comes together quickly and easily and tastes delicious! In my case, I had some leftover diced tomatoes in a carton in my refrigerator and so combined that with some chopped fresh tomatoes to form the base of the sauce.  Always try to figure out ways to use leftover ingredients in your refrigerator to avoid waste.  It helps the environment as well as your wallet! Reducing garbage is good for the planet.  Next, try to find local sources for the vegetables and herbs.  You might be able to find mushrooms at your farmer's market.  Although I used cremini mushrooms here, I am sure that any kind of mushrooms would be great.  A mix of wild mushrooms would be awesome!  Perhaps you are growing thyme in your herb garden, or in a pot on your windowsill?  Tomatoes are not yet in season where I live, but if you are in a warmer climate, maybe you have access to local tomatoes.  Or maybe you are reading this in early August, way past the time I originally posted it, when fresh tomatoes are plentiful everywhere!

If you are a really ambitious cook, you can try making your pasta from scratch, saving the planet from the fossil fuels that go into factory food production.  Pat yourself on the back. Otherwise, just remember that every little bit counts.  You can buy a box of pasta for a much easier meal.  Counter that with another action that demonstrates environmental awareness and an effort to reduce the taxation of planetary resources in order to eat. Idea: store leftovers in a bowl covered with a plate instead of in a plastic bag. Reuse a glass jar as a storage container.

Ok, enough about environmental consciousness.  Let's get cooking!



5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic (or 2 regular sized cloves), pressed
3 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh, canned or a combination)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 TBS olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/8 tsp Aleppo pepper (substitute cayenne or crushed red pepper if you don’t have Aleppo)

Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Saute diced onions until translucent.  Lower heat. Add garlic, stir for about a minute, just enough to release flavor. Be sure not to burn the garlic.  Add mushrooms, thyme leaves stripped from stems, and salt.  Grind fresh pepper over all.  Turn up heat to medium. Saute mushrooms until they are brown, stirring occasionally. 



Add chopped tomatoes and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 25 minutes or so.  Add vodka and cook over medium heat until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add cream and cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Aleppo pepper. Serve over pasta. Makes enough for about 5-6 servings.



Saturday, May 30, 2020

Green Salad with Runny Yolk Eggs, Avocado, and Lemon Dill Vinaigrette


That lemon dill vinaigrette from my last post was so good, I figured it would be tasty with other combinations of things.  Yesterday, I saw something that Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa) posted on Instagram that inspired me.  She posted avocado toast with runny eggs, and it looked super delicious.  Seems like avocado and eggs might be a nice combination, and I knew they would both be fantastic with my lemon dill vinaigrette.  So I built on that idea, deciding to try a green salad this time, with arugula and Boston lettuce, and added some veggies I had in the fridge: shredded carrots, diced sweet peppers, diced cucumber, frozen shelled edamame that had been defrosted. I layered them all, including of course the soft boiled eggs and avocado, and then threw on a handful of sweet cherry tomatoes, and drizzled that vinaigrette over everything.  Yum! A very satisfying lunch! Build a separate salad for each person in individual bowls.

For each individual salad:

handful each of arugula and Boston or Bibb lettuce
2 eggs, steamed for 9 minutes as instructed in my last post, peeled and halved lengthwise
a few spoonfuls of shelled edamame
a spoonful of diced red and green peppers
a spoonful of diced cucumber
half an avocado, diced
some shredded carrots (I use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of carrot from a whole carrot)
handful of cherry tomatoes
Drizzle lemon dill vinaigrette (see my last post for the recipe) over all

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Roasted Potato, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Runny Eggs, Tuna/Chickpeas, and Lemon Dill Vinaigrette



It is beginning to feel like summer.  A perfect summer dinner is filled with a variety of fresh vegetables, brought together with a sauce that complements and binds the ingredients. Since my family includes both carnivores and vegetarians, I love to figure out ways to satisfy both preferences with the same dish.  For this dish, you prepare the components of the salad and can mix and match ingredients according to individual preferences.  I happened to have some fancy looking dolphin-safe tuna in lemon, olive oil and pepper, in a jar, which I picked up at the start of this pandemic, thinking it would be a good pantry item if I had to survive on what I had in my cupboard.  That combined nicely with a mix of roasted and raw veggies, and was all pulled together with this scrumptious lemon dill vinaigrette (you'll want to lick the jar!) and the runny yolk of boiled eggs. The salad dressing and yolk pool together in the bottom of the bowl, so you will want to scoop it up with a forkful of veggies so all the flavors combine.  De-lish! For the vegetarian in your family, put together a salad that leaves out the tuna but includes chickpeas for some extra protein.  For the carnivore, include the tuna and leave out--or not--the chickpeas.  This was a big hit in our house last night! 

Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

Juice of one lemon (about 1 1/2 TBS)
1 TBS white balsamic vinegar
4 TBS olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, pressed
2 TBS chopped dill
1 tsp capers, drained

Mix all ingredients in a jar. Shake well.


Salad:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending upon how big they are
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into about 8 wedges (discard top of fennel)
Handful cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
6-8 eggs (2 per person)
6 oz. high quality tuna, optional
Cooked Chickpeas, optional (from a can is acceptable)
Olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (use convection roast if your oven offers this feature). Toss green beans with olive oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet.  Toss potatoes with olive oil and salt and spread on another baking sheet.  Toss fennel with olive oil and salt and spread on same baking sheet as potatoes.  Roast beans and fennel for about 20-25 minutes, tossing once or twice while roasting.  Roast potatoes for about 45 minutes to an hour, tossing several times while roasting, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, prepare a saucepan by putting a few inches of water in it and a steamer basket.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Place eggs in steamer basket, cover, and steam over low heat (so water is just simmering) for 9 minutes. Place eggs under cold water, then peel.  If possible, time the cooking of the eggs so that they are ready just before you are ready to put together the salads. Egg whites should be firm and fully cooked; yolks should be beginning to harden but still a little runny.

Build each salad serving in large individual salad bowls as follows:
Place roasted beans, fennel and potatoes on bottom. Sprinkle with a few cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices, then some diced red pepper. Add some pieces of tuna and/or chickpeas.  Place 2 boiled eggs halved lengthwise on top of each salad.  Drizzle vinaigrette on top.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Vegetable Stock


With good vegetable stock, you can adapt lots of soup recipes calling for chicken or beef stock to a vegetarian version.  Using canned vegetable stock or a vegetable bouillon cube is always an easy alternative, but the stock I suggest here is much tastier, and pretty easy.

Much of the philosophy behind GreenPlanetEating is that, to be kind to our environment, we need to reduce food waste and reduce our consumption of animals.  A great way to do this is to save vegetable scraps in a ziplock bag or container in the freezer and then simmer them with water to make vegetable stock.  I routinely save herb stems and deteriorating leaves; onion ends and skins; the dark green leek leaves that get trimmed off and thrown away with most recipes calling for the white and light green part of the leek only; the ends and skins of carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, celery, and parsnips. You can put all these scraps, along with a bunch of parsley and thyme, water to cover, salt and whole peppercorns, together in a pot, cover and simmer for an hour or two. Go ahead and taste the broth before you decide whether it is done or not.  If it tastes good to you, then pour it all into a large strainer placed over a large bowl or another pan to contain the broth.  You can use it right away, refrigerate it to use within the next couple of days, or freeze it to use later.  If you freeze it, try freezing some in an ice cube tray so that you can use small amounts of vegetable broth to make sauces in the future.

If you don't feel like waiting to have a ziplock bag full of vegetable scraps to make your stock, you can follow my recipe below.  If you make it as I write in the recipe below, you will need to be home while the stock simmers, but you can be doing other things.  Alternatively, you could dump all the ingredients in a slow cooker and just let it cook all day, then strain it when you get home, if you will be gone all day.

The recipe below uses some vegetable parts that might ordinarily be thrown away, but in fact some of those "waste" items contain nutrients that enhance our stock.  Raising animals for food generally uses more of earth's resources than raising vegetables for food, so by eating a hearty vegetable-based soup rather than a meat-based soup, we are consuming fewer resources and leaving more environmental resources for those who will follow us on this planet!

extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peels intact, cut into quarters
1 leek, end removed, cleaned, cut into large chunks (include dark green leaves)
6 carrots with tops, cleaned and cut into chunks
10 celery stalks, include all leafy green tops, cleaned and cut into chunks
stems from approximately 17 mushrooms, use a variety (example, shiitake and cremini)
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
handful (approximately 1 cup) of fresh parsley, including stems, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
bottoms and ends of 10 parsnips
5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
½ tsp sea salt
1 whole dried chipotle pepper (makes it spicy/omit if you don’t like the heat)
5 slices dried shiitake mushrooms


Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add all vegetables as you clean and chop them and stir while cooking.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare vegetables, then add about 10 cups water and remaining ingredients.  Cover and bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook for about 2 hours, then strain and use in soups.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday: Lentil Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday! These are the easiest tacos imaginable, especially if you happen to have leftover cooked lentils in your refrigerator.  That's what happened to me.  I cooked lentils for dinner one night, then the next night just loaded them into taco shells with traditional taco additions:  shredded cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, arugula (OK, maybe arugula is not traditional, but I didn't have plain old lettuce and the arugula tasted great in the tacos!), and a special sauce.  In this case, I made a quick sauce out of sour cream, lime juice, and ground chipotle chile, instead of using a red taco sauce.  Delicious creation! In case you don't have leftover lentils sitting in your fridge, I am supplying you with an easy recipe for lentils that can stand alone or go into these tacos.  But really all you have to do is boil some lentils and be sure to include cumin in the spices that go into them.
The Lentils:


1 carrot, diced,
2 celery stalks, diced
1 leek, chopped
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 TBS tomato paste
2 cups lentils, rinsed
6 cups water or vegetable broth, or a combination
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of Aleppo pepper (you can substitute cayenne pepper)
3 handfuls of baby spinach

Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add leeks and sautéed until they become soft and translucent.  Add pressed garlic clove and stir.  Add diced carrots, celery and tomato.  Sautée everything for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.  Add lentils, water and/or vegetable broth, tomato paste, cumin, oregano and marjoram.  Cover and simmer until lentils soften, about 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or so.  Stir in a pinch of Aleppo pepper and the baby spinach, cover and cook a few more minutes, until spinach is wilted. The longer you cook the lentils, the thicker they will get.  If you use them before they have thickened, and they are watery, just serve them with a straining spoon so that they are not too watery for the tacos. If you don't use all the lentils for the tacos, the water is good to store the lentils in because they will continue to thicken in the refrigerator, so don't drain the water out of the tacos and throw it away.


Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce:


1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/8 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Build Your Taco:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Arugula
Shredded cheddar cheese
Cooked Lentils
Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce

Monday, May 4, 2020

Eggplant Spread, Mushroom and Arugula Sandwich

With so many people working from home these days, perhaps your daytime environment is more conducive to putting together an interesting sandwich.  This is what I made for today's lunch.  I had made a batch of Barefoot Contessa's luscious eggplant spread for dinner a couple of nights ago and still had some left. I have always loved this eggplant spread as a sandwich spread with fresh veggies for lunch.  Today I went a little fancier and sautéed some shiitake and cremini mushrooms for the sandwiches.  Yum! I am posting an adaptation of Barefoot Contessa's recipe for the spread, below.


Sandwich components:
Bread
Eggplant Spread
Sauteed Mushrooms
Baby arugula

Eggplant spread (adapted from Barefoot Contessa):

2 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-2” chunks
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup Olive oil
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 TBS tomato paste


Toss eggplant, onion, garlic and red pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, tossing a couple of times while roasting. You want the vegetables to begin to caramelize but not burn (a little burn is ok, especially with the onions). Blend vegetables in food processor or blender with tomato paste.

Sauteed Mushrooms for 2 people

About 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
Sprig of thyme
Clove of garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and butter

Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium low heat with pressed garlic for a couple of minutes.  Add mushrooms, butter, thyme leaves (strip leaves from branches over pan), salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally,  until mushrooms are tender.

To serve, spread eggplant spread on both sides of toasted bread, pile sautéed mushrooms on top of one of the slices, then cover with arugula and place other side of bread with eggplant spread facedown to make a sandwich.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday! Zucchini, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday again! Tacos are an easy meal that most people like.  The problem for me was always that the traditional recipe called for browning ground beef and mixing it with that taco seasoning packet.  Green Planet Eating calls for trying to reduce the impact of our food requirements on the environment.  The ground beef that is mass-produced, so easy to pick up at the supermarket and throw into a frying pan with that taco seasoning, contributes to carbon emissions much more than vegetables grown in the soil. If you use vegetables instead of meat, you can visualize a reduction in methane that is a destructive by-product of industrial animal farms.  The methane contributes to global climate change.  

These are some of my favorite tacos: roasted sweet potatoes combined with a spicy vegetable and black bean mixture.  The sweetness and texture of the sweet potatoes contrasts nicely with the flavors and textures of the zucchini, black beans, onions and tomatoes. 
2-3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil
Salt
2-3 TBS Grapeseed oil
1 zucchini, diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes (about 7 or 8), halved
2 cups cooked black beans (or a can of black beans)
1/2 large onion, diced
Taco seasoning
Shredded cheddar cheese
about 8 Taco Shells


Start by peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes, then toss them with olive oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet. I cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup:


Roast potatoes in an oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees F., or 400 degrees with a “convection roast” setting. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice during roasting time, until it looks like this:

 

Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil (or another cooking oil) in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add diced onion and stir to coat with oil.  Saute for a couple minutes, stirring, until onions begin to become translucent.  Add zucchini and continue to saute, stirring occassionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in cherry tomatoes, cook for a few minutes, then add black beans and stir everything together in the pan.  Sprinkle taco seasoning to taste over all. I used about 1/4 packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, but the amount you use will depend on the brand you use as well as your personal taste.  Stir and continue to cook.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until zucchini is very tender.



Heat taco shells according to package directions.


To serve, spoon sweet potatoes and black bean mixture into heated taco shells. Add shredded cheese. Serves 2, about 8 tacos.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vegetarian "Reuben" Sandwiches

My favorite sandwich is a Reuben.  Before I stopped eating meat, I would often order a Reuben if I went out to lunch and it was on the menu.  I always considered it a special treat.  I never tried to make one though.  One of the sacrifices I have made in deciding that it is better for the planet if I don't eat meat, is sometimes choosing not to eat something that I would really like to eat.  One of those things is the corned beef in a traditional Reuben.  

I wanted to try to duplicate the flavors I love in a Reuben, and thought substituting sautéed mushrooms for the corned beef might work as a start.  The other elements of my favorite sandwich do not contain meat, so no need to compromise there! I think that most Reuben sandwiches have Thousand Island Dressing.  I looked up some recipes for Thousand Island Dressing.  Many of them call for horseradish, which I do not happen to like, so I decided to make up my own version, which I just call "Sauce." I am not sure if it is authentic Thousand Island Dressing, but it tastes good in this sandwich! The result was delicious.  My meat-eating husband seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, so feel free to serve this to vegetarians and carnivores alike!


 

 






For 3 sandwiches


Olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and pressed
Salt
Pinch of Aleppo pepper
2 1/2 cups sliced portobello and/or cremini mushrooms (for portobello mushrooms, cut in half across the top, then slice, so that the slices are not so big)
6 slices rye bread
Softened butter
Sauerkraut
Approximately .45 lbs. sliced gruyere cheese


Sauce:
3 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS sweet pickle relish
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp concentrated tomato paste

Cook the mushrooms:
Heat generous amount of olive oil in skillet, then add pressed clove of garlic.  Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add mushrooms. Sprinkle salt to taste over all and stir so that all the mushroom slices are coated with oil.  Continue sautéing until mushrooms are soft.  Sprinkle a pinch of Aleppo pepper over all, stir and turn off stove.  Let sit while you prepare the rest of the sandwiches:


Cook the sandwiches:
Butter both sides of bread slices. For each sandwich, fry one side of each slice of bread on a griddle. When one side is golden brown, flip it, arrange gruyere cheese slices to cover toasted side, then put some sauerkraut on it, then some sauce, then some sliced cooked mushrooms.  Cover the sandwich with the second slice, toasted side down.  Press down with a spatula and cook until the bottom bread is golden brown.  Then flip the sandwich and cook the last side until golden brown, pressing the sandwich with the spatula.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Double Whammy: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce AND Cauliflower Tacos



I've had a craving for cheddar cheese.  I love the way it enhances other foods, especially broccoli and cauliflower.  I have a couple ways to combine them here today.  


First, I have a yummy side dish for you: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce:
Then, save some of that cheese sauce to use for Taco Tuesday's cauliflower and refried bean tacos, a super-simple quick meal:


You can, of course, switch it up and put the cauliflower in the baked potatoes or the broccoli in the tacos.  However your taste buds steer you!


Baked Potatoes


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub potatoes.  Pierce a few times with a fork.  Place potatoes directly on oven rack for about 45 minutes. You can tell if the potato is ready by poking it with a fork.  If it is ready, the fork will go into the center of the potato smoothly.



While the potatoes are baking, make the cheese sauce.  This is the hardest part of the whole thing, but don't worry--it's not very hard!



Cheese Sauce for Vegetables

3 TBS flour
3 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan.  Stir in flour, salt and mustard and cook for a few minutes, continuously stirring.  Gradually add milk, stirring continually as it thickens.  Add grated cheddar cheese and stir until melted and smooth.






Next, steam the broccoli:






Steamed Broccoli

Cut up broccoli and place in glass bowl with about a tablespoon of water.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.













To serve, cut open a potato, stuff some broccoli in there, then drizzle cheese sauce on top.  Yum!


Next, save some of that cheese sauce for some easy-to-make Tacos With Cauliflower and Refried Beans.

Gather up the basics:

1 can refried beans
taco shells
cauliflower
avocado

I forgot to put the taco seasoning in the picture, but grab a packet of your favorite taco seasoning. Heat the refried beans in a pan on the stove or else in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Cut up about half a head of cauliflower into small florets and microwave them with some taco seasoning sprinkled on top and about a tablespoon of water, covered, for 3 minutes; then stir and microwave for an additional minute.









In the meantime, heat the taco shells in the oven according to package instructions.

To assemble, spoon some refried beans into a taco shell, top with some cauliflower and cheese sauce, as well as some diced avocado. How easy was THAT??!!













Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Reinventing Leftovers: Lentil and Brown Rice "Muffins"

Green Planet Eating means looking for ways to choose, prepare and consume food in a way that reflects conscientiousness about the effects that our food has on our planet.  A great way to be kind to our planet is to figure out ways to eliminate food waste.  By doing so, we reduce environmental resources used to produce food, and we also help reduce the negative effects of too much garbage in landfills. This evening I created a brand new dish using leftovers from my fridge which would have been thrown away if I had not figured out a way to totally transform them.  I had some lentils that I had cooked with mushrooms many days ago and were sitting in a bowl in the fridge.  I also had cooked brown rice from several days ago in another container. You could duplicate what I did here or use it as an idea to create your own leftover muffins from cooked beans or vegetables and grains that might be sitting in your fridge.  While I haven't tried this with other grains or beans, I imagine you could do something similar with leftover quinoa, bulgar wheat, farro, barley, etc. combined with leftover beans.  I basically just mixed those primary leftover ingredients with eggs and a little flour to help bind it together, and rose harissa to spice it up.  Rose harissa, I have discovered, is a magical ingredient that can transform food from bland to spicy flavorful.  It is worth going to some trouble to find it.  I have only been able to find it online.  It is different than regular harissa that is more commonly available in supermarkets.  



About 1/2 cup of cooked lentils (lentils combined with cooked vegetables is even better)
About 2 cups of cooked brown rice
3 eggs
1 TBS flour
1 TBS rose harissa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all together, then spoon into greased muffin tins, patting down and smoothing tops. Bake for about 25 minutes. Makes about 10-12 "muffins".  We ate one or two each for dinner, along with some other vegetables.  The rest can be easily reheated in the microwave for a snack or another meal tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

It's Taco Tuesday! Tofu and Zucchini Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday! Tacos are such a great meal, in my opinion, because they are easy to make, easy to clean up after, and most people enjoy them.  The tacos I was brought up on, however, have ground beef, which causes a dilemna for vegetarians.  I had heard that you could make tofu simulate ground beef easily by draining it out of the package, wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap then foil and freezing it.  Then after you thaw it, you just crumble it with your hand and use it as if it was ground beef. This creates an easy way to make vegetarian tacos because you are basically doing it the same way the traditional packages tell you to, just substituting tofu for ground beef.  The result tastes very much like ground beef tacos. Very palatable.  I like to add some veggies with it for variety in texture and flavor.  In this case, I used zucchini and onion, as well as some tomatoes. Obviously, you could do this with any brand of taco seasoning, but I like Trader Joe's brand.  It is a little spicier than other supermarket brands I have tried. I enjoy coming up with different vegetarian fillings for tacos, so look for future variations on upcoming Taco Tuesdays!

1/2 lb. tofu, frozen, thawed, liquid squeezed out, and crumbled
1 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
Packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning
Grapeseed oil
1 tomato, chopped or handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup strained tomatoes 

Chopped tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes
chopped cilantro
Chopped lettuce
Diced avocado
Shredded cheddar cheese

Taco shells

Saute onion in oil until just beginning to become translucent. Add tofu, stir, sprinkle taco seasoning to taste over all, continue stirring for a few minutes, trying to coat all the tofu with seasoning.  Remove to bowl.  Add more oil, then add zucchini and saute until soft and browned. Add tomatoes and stir. Add strained tomatoes, stir and cook some more.

Serve in warmed taco shells with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, avocado and shredded cheese.  Makes about 9 tacos. Serves about 3 people.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Velvety Asparagus Soup

I bought a couple bunches of asparagus just before Easter weekend, because I come from a family that eats asparagus on Easter Sunday.  Asparagus is a vegetable whose season is early spring. I used one bunch on Saturday night, and reserved the woody ends when I prepped them.  Although I had never used woody ends to make asparagus broth, it seemed like a good thing to do.  Green planet eating is all about using food resources wisely and conservatively, to be as kind as possible to our planet.  Waste less.  This mindset is also economical, an added bonus.  So I decided next to use the woody ends to make soup.  I combined the woody ends from the first bunch of asparagus with the woody ends from a second bunch and some water to make the basic broth that would form the foundation of the soup.  Then I layered flavors:  leeks, which lend a sweetness to make anything taste good; a potato, to add creaminess; more asparagus; salt and pepper.  Simple but good.  Top it all with a little Parmigiano-Regiano and you have a delicious meal.


Bunch of Asparagus
Plus woody ends of another bunch of asparagus
1 leek, chopped
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, diced into 1/2”-1” pieces
8 cups water
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
4 TBS butter
Parmesan rind (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Separate woody ends from asparagus stalks by bending and breaking off each stalk where it breaks naturally.  Place woody ends from 2 bunches of asparagus in pan with 8 cups water.  Cover and bring to boil. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until asparagus is tender.  Blend, then strain soup through a sieve and discard solids, reserving broth.  In another pan, melt 4 TBS butter.  Add sliced leeks and saute, stirring, until soft and translucent. Add diced potatoes and salt, stir and saute for a couple minutes.  Add asparagus broth and pepper. Cut asparagus stalks into 1’ pieces. Scrape about half of them, the lower parts of the stalks, into the soup. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Blend soup until smooth.  Pour back into pan, add asparagus tips and pieces and optional parmesan rind.  Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Remove parmesan rind. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top. Serves 3.